One of Us: The Person Behind the Professional
Robert (Bob) Bush
Bob Bush started out his varied education by graduating from both the Thief River Falls aviation program and Anoka-Ramsey Community College. After working full-time for a while in the industry, he attended and graduated from the College of Natural Resources at the University of Minnesota with his bachelor’s degree. He then completed an M.S. and Ph.D. at the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products (which is now our Department of Sustainable Biomaterials) here at Virginia Tech, studying under the late Dr. Steven Sinclair.
Bob was led to the field of wood science when he was looking for a change in his life and career and asked his advisor, Dr. Allen Ek at the University of Minnesota, what area had the best career prospects. Dr. Ek sent him to the Kaufert Laboratory in their forest products and wood science building. Speaking with others in that building and laboratory led Bob to his graduate studies in wood science and forest products and, eventually, to the field of packaging.
For many years, Bob conducted research in the area of forest products marketing, and he also has a decade of experience in administrative activities. He is currently developing packaging research; specifically, evaluating packaging through the use of eye-tracking technology. He explained that one of his recent project’s evaluated the effectiveness of environmental claims and certifications found on consumer packaging.
Bob told us that he was drawn to the packaging field because it is fascinating and full of variety – it is also pervasive in society and has a huge impact on human wellbeing. He particularly enjoys teaching the Principles of Packaging class because he especially likes working with students in a laboratory setting. He also enjoys being exposed to new worlds and broadening the perspectives of his students through the study abroad courses that he teaches.
One of his favorite things about working here at Virginia Tech “is walking across the drill field on a bright, crisp fall day. Hearing the carillon from Burruss Hall and passing a student who recognizes me and says ‘Hi, Dr. Bush.’”
Bob is rewarded when he sees his former students succeed. In the past, Bob has received the department teaching award; however, he told us that the award he cannot hang on his wall is the best one he’s received. This was being part of guiding and supporting a particular student to finish our program and obtain his first professional level position. This student did not think that they could complete a college program and now they have, and currently work in the industry.
Bob has lived in various places throughout his life. When asked where he was from, he responded “that is a bit complicated for me to answer. I was born in England and my parents moved our family to the United States when I was young. We lived in Milwaukee and then Minneapolis. I moved to Blacksburg in 1984 and Illinois in 1986. Since 1988, I have lived in Blacksburg.”
Bob said he is “lucky to share my life with my wonderful wife, Kristen, and two extraordinary children, Brian and Emma. Both children are attending college. I serve as technical director for a local theater group, enjoy bicycling, and recently was certified to dive using scuba equipment.”
When Bob was asked what his career would be if he were not a professor he said that “before attending the University of Minnesota, I was licensed and worked as an aircraft mechanic. So perhaps that. I always told myself that if the professor thing didn’t work out I could go back to aircraft. Luckily, the need has not developed. Or perhaps a bicycling, scuba diving hermit. Is it possible to make a living doing that?”
Quote from a Colleague:
Dr. Bush is one of the most dedicated and conscientious faculty members in the department. He is committed to make sure our students have a great learning experience and he is very engaged with them in all his courses. I have seen him at the Brooks Center late at night and weekends working with students on their class projects. He wants our students to have the best learning experiences he can provide. The department is very fortunate to have such a hard-working member of our community." Dr. Bob Smith, Associate Dean for Engagement and Professor